The wealth of a nation depends on the health of its people. If we are serious about raising the living standards of our people, it is very important that we make sure that our people are healthy and have cheap and readily available facilities to keep that good health.
The present problems are the high cost of seeking medical attention, the high price of buying medicines and drugs, a very poor ambulance service, the scarcity of basic items, such as bandages, tablets, blood in the three hospitals in Grenada and Carriacou, and the various Visiting Stations.
High quality medical attention, we feel, must be a right and not a privilege. We all need to be healthy to be able to continue to work and to develop our country. Our children must be healthy to learn.
We propose the creation of an island-wise preventative medicine campaign. This would involve a massive program of immunisation, that is , the provisions of injections and other medicines to our people before they become ill. Every child will be inoculated against the following diseases-diptheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, measles and smallpox. There would also be a serious program of health education involving the teaching of hygiene, dietary techniques and first aid in our schools and oil the radio.
We will also set up a small research unit of our best local doctors to develop medicines from our abundant local herbs. These will be much cheaper than imported medicines since the foreign drug companies make huge profits for themselves.
We propose the creation of a National Sewerage Scheme to ensure that the beaches and seas around us do not become polluted thus creating health hazards.
We will make sure that drains are properly maintained and that modern new drains are built.
We will provide the necessary men and equipment to ensure that garbage is removed thoroughly and regularly.
The entire water supply will be constantly checked, filtered and purified before being supplied to the public. All meats, milk and other food commodities will be regularly inspected by properly trained public health inspectors.
We will begin a program designed to wipe out completely mosquitoes, bats and other pests in the State.
There will also be a large-scale training program for nurses for each village in the country. The main function of these nurses will be the application of first aid, diagnosing (saying what is wrong) illnesses for reference to a doctor (particularly complaints involving the organs of the body, such as the eyes or the ears) and handling the hundred of minor complaints which many doctors charge heavy fees for. The nurses will be trained to five expert attention and treatment to expectant mothers and to treating all forms of communicable diseases.
These nurses would also be responsible for teaching the health education subjects in the schools.
We do not consider it necessary to build new hospitals at this stage. Rather, what will be done would be to upgrade the present hospitals, ensure that they are sufficiently stocked with essential items and equipment and to provide them with local doctors with love and dedication for our people.
There is also a crying need for the formulation of a fixed scale of charges which doctors will be obliged under penalty of law to follow. There will also be price control on the cost of drugs and medicines.
In place of building a lot of new Visiting Stations, we would set up a number of mobile units which would travel to the respective areas in the country and to schools at intervals. The number of ambulances available will be increased.
School children, in particular, must have their eyes and ears regularly tested. It is very common for teachers to accuse children with bad eye-sight or poor hearing of being dunces without realising the severe handicaps the children labour under. Under this system of regular tests, these problems will be overcome.
In times of national crisis, for example, during the major outbreak of typhoid fever, doctors will come under the control of the State, so as to ensure that our people are not exploited.
Finally, we would create a National Insurance Health Scheme to provide free medical attention for our people.
None of these changes would require a massive outlay of expenditure but rather a more careful utilization of our present resources to provide a decent health plan.
In addition to our proposals under Health we advocate -
- Free Psychiatric and Mental Health treatment for all persons in the State.
- As a special priority, the building of houses for the old and needy.
- The provision of adequate physical facilities for proper Geriatric treatment for the old. First priority will always be given to our older folk. They have laboured for long and as a people we must now be prepared and willing to care for them adequately and without cost.
- Free dental treatment for all people, particularly pensioners and school children.
- The creation of Community Centers in every village with a planned programme of activities.
- A National Youth Development Committee to be controlled and run by the youth of the State. All existing youth organisations, and, in particular, the Grenada Assembly of Youth, will be invited to contribute ideas and personnel to the Committee. Apart from organising activities for its membership, this Committee will be invited to participate in other national bodies concerned with public affairs. The Committee will have as one of its main functions the implementation of a program designed to raise the level of National Consciousness throughout the State.
- The present House of Refuge (or Poor House) will be renovated and its facilities updated to ensure the comfort of its residents.
- All organisations in the State running Charitable Institutions will be given every encouragement to continue and expand their efforts.
- We believe that the present policy of the administrators of the prison over-stresses punishment. We will ensure that all offenders who are convicted are treated as human beings while they are in prison and are given every opportunity to acquire a skill which could benefit them on their return to Society. Proper separate facilities and programs for the rehabilitation of young offenders, in particular, will be created.